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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2011 > Jun > Jun 28

Re: Astounding Floating City Phenomenon In China

From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
Date: Tue, 28 Jun 2011 16:11:03 +0100
Archived: Tue, 28 Jun 2011 12:35:53 -0400
Subject: Re: Astounding Floating City Phenomenon In China

>From: Peter Davenport <director.nul>
>To: <post.nul>
>Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2011 11:02:34 -0700
>Subject: Re: Astounding Floating City Phenomenon In China

>>From: Dave Haith <visions1.nul>
>>To: UFO UpDates" <post.nul>
>>Date: Mon, 27 Jun 2011 12:22:40 +0100
>>Subject: Re: Astounding Floating City Phenomenon In China

>>>From: Gregory Boone <evolbaby.nul>
>>>To: post.nul
>>>Date: Sun, 26 Jun 2011 23:08:27 -0400 (EDT)
>>>Subject: Astounding Floating City Phenomenon In China



>Your discussion of "floating cities" brought to mind a case
>reported to NUFORC from New York City on Tuesday, September 19,
>1995, involving a sighting four days earlier by hundreds of
>passengers on the Staten Island Ferry. It is a very interesting
>case, with multiple witnesses, and it received competent
>follow-up investigation by the MUFON investigators with whom I
>had shared the case.

>On Friday night, September 15, 1995, a young woman from Staten
>Island boarded the Staten Island Ferry at the southern tip of
>Manhattan, NYC, for the 10:00 p.m. sailing to Staten Island.

>Approximately eight minute after the ferry's departure from
>Manhattan, as the ferry coursed to the south, and with
>Governor's Island located off to the east, passengers on the
>outside upper deck began shouting loudly about something they
>were observing in the eastern sky. Passengers on the west side
>of the ferry began streaming rapidly to the port side of the
>vessel, to witness what other passengers apparently were

>The female witness who first contacted NUFORC, and who was
>seated on the inside of the ferry at the time of the
>disturbance, decided to wander outside to the outer deck, in
>order to see what was causing the commotion.

>Upon arriving on the outer deck, she was confronted by a very
>large "object", hovering above the water in the eastern sky
>ABOVE Governor's Island! It appeared to be a gigantic "city",
>which appeared to be just floating in the sky! Moreover, she
>was unable to identify the skyline! She was stunned and
>flabbergasted by the image before her!! Her illustration
>appears in a video production about the event.)

>It would be the easiest thing to simply dismiss the case,
>claiming that the witnesses were observing nothing more than a
>refracted image of Governor's Island off to the east. However,
>the image was of tall sky-scrapers, which are not present on
>Governor's Island.

>Also, other facts surrounding the event don't "square" with such
>an explanation. First, the witnesses reported that the water,
>just below the "image", was being roiled and frothed, to a quite
>noticeable degree, apparently caused by the presence of the
>object above! Obviously, a refracted image would not disturb
>the surface of water below it.

>Also, when the MUFON investigators first set out to begin the
>process of collecting evidence, they were quite surprised to
>discover that the tapes in all the emergency communications
>centers, for the time in question, were missing! Apparently,
>someone saw to it that all the tapes for that night were made
>to "disappear". This fact is discussed in the 30-minute video
>about the event, which I have played for many audiences.

>Hence, I conclude that it is premature to conclude that all
>images of "floating cities" are nothing but optical aberrations.
>Based on the one example cited above, I conclude that some of
>such reports may have been caused by a phenomenon we are yet to
>explain satisfactorily.

Hi Peter

A fascinating story. You mention a video of the investigations.
Is this available for us to view online anywhere? Or is there a
written report?

In the meantime, I wonder how you would respond to these initial
thoughts and impressions:

I'm not at all familiar with this district except from films and
photos, but Google Earth lets us investigate a bit. I understand
that the Staten Island ferry makes about 10.4 kt, and in about 8
minutes it would be just passing the southwest tip of Governer's
Island. A line of sight exactly due east (true) from this point
passes at an elevation of less than ~20ft over the extreme
southwest shore of the island at about 1/2 mile distance, and
intercepts the west shore of the higher ground of Brooklyn
beyond at about 1 mile distance. The horizon angular elevation
along this LOS appears to be in the range 10-20 arcmin.

There appears to me (based, I concede, only on a GE visit and
some internet and map research) to be the opportunity for a
considerable expanse of Brooklyn skyline to be visible in an arc
of tens of degrees "in the eastern sky". On bearings south of
due east it seems that this skyline ought to be fully visible
even in conditions of normal refractivity, rising to >130 ft ASL
within ~4 miles at about 105 deg from the above position, topped
with buildings. It would therefore presumably be somewhat
familiar on any ordinary evening, and  north of due east, to at
least (say) 75 deg, the Brooklyn skyline could be at least
partially obstructed by the nearer island in normal conditions.
But if the refractivity was very abnormal because of a surface
inversion duct perhaps the lights and moonlit silhouette of the
usually-hidden Brooklyn cityscape "loomed" into view above the
nearer normal horizon, creating this "gigantic city floating in
the sky".

Generally the classical small-angle condition for mirage appears
to be satisfied. The hypothetical target skyline some miles away
would be only a few tens of arcminutes above the geometrical
(sea) horizon, close to the astronomical horizon a little above
it. The mirage would appear in a band centred on the
astronomical horizon. Of course whether or not such a thing was
meteorologically likely over this stretch of water on the date
in question is another matter. But it isn't clear to me on
present evidence why what she saw could not have been a mirage
image of a part of the Brooklyn skyline.

There may be objections. The ferry would be only barely south of
the island if making 10.4 kt, and perhaps the 10:00 pm ferry on
Sept 15 1995 was running against the tide and made less headway,
in which case after 8 minutes it would not have reached the
south point of the island. The island might then be considered
"in the way". Even so, Governors Island does not (as you point
out) seem to have high ground or high buildings, being generally
only a few feet ASL apart from the far NE end (where it rises to
about 40ft), and a Brooklyn skyline normally only barely or
partially obscured would need only a few tens of arcmin of
refraction to be lifted into view.

You say the image appeared "above Governors island". This might
seem to imply that it was at a relatively high elevation
distinct from the island below, were such an inference not
somewhat at odds with the statement that the "the water, just
below the 'image', was being roiled and frothed, to a quite
noticeable degree." If the image was distinctly "above the
island", then what was "just below" it would be not, of course,
water, but the island.

But I wonder how literally we need take this phrase, and I
wonder how distinctly the outline of the south shore of the
island might have been discernable against the Brooklyn shore
beyond, given that at 10:08PM on Sept 15 the sun had been set
for 3 hours (>30deg under the horizon) and it could well have
been pitch dark.

What was the weather? The moon's phase was 0.578 but at the time
it was on the point of rising on the NE horizon, at ~63 deg
azimuth, and if it provided any illumination it would have been
to backlight the skyline not far from the sighting direction -
not necessarily making discernment of the island shore any
easier. In any case the statement that the image appeared "above
Governors island", even taken literally, is consistent with a
LOS towards the Brooklyn skyline if it passes over the southern
half of the island.

Why did the witness not recognise what she saw as the Brooklyn
skyline? The effect of a superior mirage of the type that can
occur due to very stable subsidence inversions in the marine
boundary layer over coastal bodies of water is to accentuate the
verticals and stretch the image upwards. This is often called
"towering". In the process it is possible for images to be
multiplied and layered one on top of the other. The effect is
classically likened to a "city" skyline for this reason, and if
the target image is in fact a cityscape then one supposes that
the effect is likely to be especially city-like, but distorted

Perhaps the apparent disturbance of the water was also an effect
of the same mirage on the "glitter path" of reflections below
the moon, or perhaps the startling nature of the image naturally
caused the witnesses to associate it with an unrelated
disturbance (due to a passing boat, or - I'm guessing - to
turbulent tidal flow past the southerly point of the island).

I don't offer this as a definite solution, of course; but I'd be
interested in reasons why the investigation to which you refer
appears to have concluded that this is an impossible scenario.

Martin Shough

Listen to 'Strange Days... Indeed' - The PodCast



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